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To Kabul, Afghanistan With United Nations W/pics  
User currently offlineCanberra From Denmark, joined Apr 2004, 310 posts, RR: 4
Posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 15040 times:

Hi all,

Just back from a short visit to Afghanistan. I was flying Amsterdam-London-Dubai-Kabul and back, with KLM, British Airways, BMI and not least United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS). It is the two flights between Dubai and Kabul with UNHAS this trip report is about.

First of all, why go to Afghanistan? Well, I was approached by at Satellite Communications Company to help set op some equipment for the Danish Representation in Kabul. The engineer on the job was one of my friends, so after a quick call to one of my former colleagues now working in Kabul, I accepted the offer.

Next step was the planning, how do we get in and out of Kabul? Part of my job was to make the trip as safe as possible, so when I saw that the travel advise for many countries warned against travel on Ariana Afghan Airlines and Kam Air, I was in trouble. I wouldn’t mind flying any of them but if something went wrong it was not difficult to see how was going to be blamed, now that we were warned. Anyway, another call to my old colleague revealed another option. Fly to either Islamabad or Dubai and fly with UNHAS the last bit. Well that sounded like something everybody could be happy with, and as we were travelling with a fair bit of electronic equipment it was not difficult to choose Dubai as transit airport over Islamabad. I haven’t experienced it myself, but Pakistani costumes official is rumoured to be allergic to electronics  Wink

After the trip had been postponed several times, I finally went of to Amsterdam-Schiphol on Monday 16th of May, went to London-Heathrow on a KLM Boeing 737-400. At Heathrow I meet my friend and colleague for the job, and went on to Dubai on a BA Boeing 777-200.

We arrived Dubai at around 0800 local time at terminal 1. As we were supposed to leave from terminal 2, we went through immigration and customs (without any hassle) and took a taxi to the other terminal. To my disappointment I didn’t find anywhere at terminal 2 where I could have a good look at the traffic passing outside. Very annoying as there were several Iran Aseman, Kish Air and other rare stuff leaving while we were sitting inside  Sad

As we already knew we had a bit too much luggage with us. At the check-in counter it was weight in at 117 kg. We were allowed 30 kg each, and the rest was settled at a very reasonable price of 5 USD per kg (we even got a discount).

Time to get to the point, first the flight details.

Flight number: UN030W
Airline: United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (operated by King Air Charter)
Aircraft: ZS-NNN, DC-9-32 (c/n 47516/630)
Scheduled/Actual time of departure (DXB): 1200L/1223L
Scheduled/Actual time of arrival (KBL): 1500L/1506L
Scheduled/Actual flying time: 2:30/2:13

After having been sitting inside for more or less three hours we where ready to board our aircraft. I was still wondering what kind of aircraft we were going to fly, rumours before leaving had told my everything from Antonov An-72, Fokker F-28 and Yakolev Yak-40, but on the stand was a DC-9 in full UNHAS markings. I was a little bit disappointed, but even though I have been on quite a lot of different types (se my profile), this was my first flight on a DC-9, so not all that bad.

We were taken to the aircraft by bus, which gave my a possibility to note down some of the nice stuff parked around, including Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200, Kish Air MD-80 and many more. Highlight was a South Asian Airlines Boeing 707-300C though.


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Boarding was though the front door only, but was made quite effective by letting only approximately 20 persons in the aircraft at the time. The aircraft have an all economy 2-3 layout. Seating was free so I found myself a window seat on the right side, row 14 I think.


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Shortly after the boarding was completed we were pushed back and started our taxi towards RWY 12R. I seemed that they just changed runways before we were leaving so I fund myself sitting on the wrong side, as I couldn’t see much of what we were taxiing past. Luckily it turned out to be the good side when we arrived Kabul.

As we taxied towards take off a safety demonstration was given by the four man (three girls and one guy) strong cabin crew. All in all everything was pretty much like on any other airline.


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We finally took off, and as we hit the shoreline we made a light right hand turn so we followed the coast. Around five minutes after take off we could see Sharjah Airport and another airport very nearby. Any ideas? We crossed the Persian Gulf pretty much over the Strait of Hormuz, and continued in a more or less straight line across Iran and Afghanistan most of the way to Kabul. Only around Kabul there was some twists and turns during the approach between the mountains.


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As already said everything was pretty much like any other airline, there was one difference though. There was no cockpit door in the aircraft; the only thing that separated the cockpit from the passengers was a curtain. I am aware that this maybe wasn’t that unusual in the past, but I only remember having been on one scheduled flight without a cockpit door before in my life, an Embraer EMB-110 flying between Copenhagen and Aalborg, and that was actually in 2003.

Half way though the flight lunch was served, no less than three small sandwiches, a big piece of cake and a few biscuits. Not bad as I didn’t expect anything (the rumours about UN flight were way off).


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As we approached Kabul Airport we were flying fairly close to the mountains (not too close), before we finally landed very smoothly. As we taxied to the terminal I had good views of both the Afghan Air Force part (with an An-12, An-26s, An-32s, Mi-8s and Mi-24s) and the civilian part (with the UN flights, Ariana, Kam Air etc.). I didn’t see the ISAF base at all.


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Photo © Michael Flebbe



MyAviation.net photo:
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Photo © Michael Flebbe



Shortly after we arrived to our stand we walked off the aircraft to the waiting UNHAS busses that took us the short distance to the terminal. I would rather have walked but I guess you can’t have it all.

After quickly having cleared customs and immigration, we were taken to our hotel, where we spend the next five nights.

Our Hotel were great, nice rooms, quiet courtyard, and great food (especially their Indian food was good). It was even possible for me to take a few photos of aircraft arriving of departing Kabul, as they were circling the city getting up or down. I felt fairly safe in Kabul it self, we didn’t encounter any problem at all, but we also stay around the hotel which was in a well-guarded part of the city with many diplomatic mission.

Anyway, Sunday morning (after having seen Arsenal secure the FA Cup the night before) we were ready to head back home. No less than two day ahead of schedule, so somebody should be happy with us.

After having checked-in, and paid the overweight, we went into the “departure lounge”, which wasn’t too big as Ariana had a departure to Munich, and UN a few flight around Afghanistan and of course us heading towards Dubai.

Flight number: UN030W (same flight number both ways!)
Airline: United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (operated by King Air Charter)
Aircraft: ZS-NNN, DC-9-32 (c/n 47516/630)
Scheduled/Actual time of departure (DXB): 0900L/0906L
Scheduled/Actual time of arrival (KBL): 1100L/1105L
Scheduled/Actual flying time: 2:30/2:29

Again we were taken to the plane by the UNHAS busses. Before boarding we had to point out our own luggage before it was taken onboard.


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Photo © Michael Flebbe



MyAviation.net photo:
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Photo © Michael Flebbe



After having found our seat, again right side (and maybe even the same seat around row 14), we taxied out for take off. This time we taxied right past the ISAF area, were the Turkish had a quite strong presence (3 x F-16, 2 x S-70 and a C-130), also a Portuguese Hercules was seen.


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Photo © Michael Flebbe



Also a few dumped aircraft where seen, among them this An-24/26.


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Photo © Michael Flebbe



After “lift off” we circled a bit over Kabul to gain altitude before heading over the mountains. The procedure was pretty much the same as on the way to Kabul, this time we flow more or less a straight line from Kabul to the Strait of Hormuz, were we crossed the Persian Gulf and entered the United Arab Emirates. We passed east of Sharjah before making a U-turn for our approach to RWY 12R.


MyAviation.net photo:
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Photo © Michael Flebbe



After landing we taxied past an impressing line-up of An-12s, Il-76s and even an Il-18 on our way back to terminal 2. Again we got of the aircraft and were bussed to the terminal.


MyAviation.net photo:
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Photo © Michael Flebbe



Passed immigration without hassle, but were held up in customs for around 30 minutes as they were examining our equipment. After having cleared customs we went to the other terminal to drop off our luggage before heading to the city for some hours before heading back to London on another BA Boeing 777-200. I spend a day and a half spotting at Heathrow before flying the last bit of this trip back to Amsterdam on a BMI A320.

All in all, a bit disappointed with the flight. But only because it was so normal, I was hopping for something more exotic! UNHAS was not better or worse than any other airline I have been on.

Thanks for listening, and hope you enjoyed.


All the best, Michael


It takes courage to push things forward . . (Mo Mowlam)
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineContact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 14975 times:

Hi Michael,

wow, great report of an outstanding trip! Thanks for the pictures of a very exotic place!

Regards
Christoph


User currently offlineA319114 From Netherlands, joined Aug 2004, 541 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 14907 times:

Great trip report, very interesting travels!


Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation
User currently offlineIakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Reply 3, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 14805 times:

Quoting Canberra (Thread starter):
Around five minutes after take off we could see Sharjah Airport and another airport very nearby. Any ideas?

Possibly Ras Al Khaimah RKT/OMRK (single N-S runway 12,000ft)


User currently offlineRyan h From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 1530 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 14792 times:

Interesting read.

Never read a trip report to afghanistan before.



South Australian Spotter
User currently offlineCPH-R From Denmark, joined May 2001, 5977 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (9 years 1 month 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 14794 times:

Cool & very unusual report, but..

Quoting Canberra (Thread starter):
but I only remember having been on one scheduled flight without a cockpit door before in my life, an Embraer EMB-110 flying between Copenhagen and Aalborg, and that was actually in 2003.

Are you thinking about the Scan Con flight? Because that's between AAL & RKE - and Roskilde certainly isn't Copenhagen Big grin


User currently offlineMarambio From Argentina, joined Oct 2004, 1160 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 14742 times:

Congratulations, Michael. Very well written trip report about some flights we hardly ever hear about. When I read the title I was too hoping for something more exotic - damn globalization, everything turns out to be the same everywhere.  Wink

Saludos,
Marambio



Aerolíneas Argentinas - La Argentina que levanta vuelo.
User currently offlineChris78cpr From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2819 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 14562 times:

Well written report and very interesting to read! Glad you had a good and safe trip!

Chris



5D2/7D/1D2(soon to be a 1Dx) 17-40L/24-105L/70-200F2.8L/100-400L/24F1.4LII/50F1.2L/85F1.2LII
User currently offlineUK_Dispatcher From United Arab Emirates, joined Dec 2001, 2589 posts, RR: 30
Reply 8, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 14543 times:

What a fantastic report - great aircraft, great places to fly! Iwas reading through wondering what sort of a/c you would get - I was thinking C-130 or something. But a DC-9 - excellent. Well done on a great report.

User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1684 posts, RR: 31
Reply 9, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 14425 times:

Michael,

Well written and documented trip-report !
Cool photos, especially  Smile

Will let you write another report after the june 15 trip (you're better and more experienced than me  Silly !



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineSA006 From South Africa, joined Sep 2003, 1883 posts, RR: 55
Reply 10, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 14178 times:

ZS-NNN? I thought she belonged to Million Air Charter! Never knew she was off flying into Afghanistan.

Great report Michael! Hope to see some more great ones  thumbsup 

-SA006  wave 



Proudly South African
User currently offlineA340600 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 4105 posts, RR: 51
Reply 11, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 14089 times:

Nice report mate,

Sam biggrin 



Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
User currently offlineMexicana757 From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 3029 posts, RR: 29
Reply 12, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 14021 times:

Nice report, you may think it wasnt exotic, but it was. I think your the first with a trip report to Afghanistan. Good trip report and thanks for sharing those pictures.  hyper 

User currently offlineFRAspotter From United States of America, joined May 2004, 2341 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 13948 times:

WOW, great report. I enjoyed the pics very much. In april 2004 i was in the UAE but flew into AUH from FRA via DOH on QR. We took some day trips in a hired Mercedes and we drove past Dubai Intl. on our way to Sharjah. You went into alot of detail which is always good...


"Drunks run stop signs. Stoners wait for them to turn green."
User currently offlineCanberra From Denmark, joined Apr 2004, 310 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 13903 times:

Hi all,

Thanks a lot for all your comments. It makes it a lot nicer to post in this forum when you get some response (I know, I am not putting in a lot of comments myself  Sad)

Quoting Iakobos (Reply 3):
Possibly Ras Al Khaimah RKT/OMRK (single N-S runway 12,000ft)

Unfortunately I don't have pictures or anything to hold it against, I am sure you are right and I was just a bit curious.

Quoting CPH-R" class=quote target=_blank>CPH-R (Reply 5):
Are you thinking about the Scan Con flight? Because that's between AAL & RKE - and Roskilde certainly isn't Copenhagen

Not so fast CPH-R  Wink Scon Con did actually operate ALL-CPH in the evening, just after SAS stooped their late evening flight. I flow it on Feb 28, 2003, flt. no. 7W 202. I was the only passenger on the flight so no wonder it didn't last.

Quoting Marambio (Reply 6):
damn globalization

Totally agree, one would hope Boeing and Airbus was split up into all the companies that formed them as soon as possible!

Quoting Chris78cpr (Reply 7):
Glad you had a good and safe trip!

Thanks, and see you on July 9 I hope!

Quoting MH017 (Reply 9):
Will let you write another report after the June 15 trip (you're better and more experienced than me !

Afraid you will have to do that you self. We are off to France for a month next Saturday, so I will not be able to join  Sad Se you at SPL next week I hope  Smile

Quoting SA006 (Reply 10):
Hope to see some more great ones

Will do my best, have a SQ trip report pending including pictures of a Christmas decorated SQ B772. Watch this space.... Se profile for my other reports.

Quoting Mexicana757 (Reply 12):
you may think it wasn't exotic, but it was

I know Afghanistan is a bit exotic, but I was thinking of the DC-9 flight. Could have done that with NW as well.


Again, thanks for all the nice comments, and keep them coming  Wink

All the best, Michael



It takes courage to push things forward . . (Mo Mowlam)
User currently offlineBurnsie28 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 7529 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 13880 times:

So can someone just book a UN flight like a regular airline or something?


"Some People Just Know How To Fly"- Best slogan ever, RIP NW 1926-2009
User currently offlineSLC1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 13849 times:

Did anyone else do a double take here? The 727 is parked alongside the An-24 so it kinda looks at first like the 727 has props. I just thought it was funny at first, of course you immediately realize it's a second plane, but still.

User currently offlineCanberra From Denmark, joined Apr 2004, 310 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (9 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 13749 times:

Quoting Burnsie28 (Reply 15):
So can someone just book a UN flight like a regular airline or something?

You can only book UNHAS as UN personal, approved NGO or Diplomatic mission. Our job was for the Danish mission in Kabul so they took care of our bookings.

All the best, Michael



It takes courage to push things forward . . (Mo Mowlam)
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